Coming Soon: Advertiser Alerts on Your Phone

Advertisers have long contemplated a world in which they could contact people walking down the street with special offers and get them to change course and enter a store. There’s been new movement this week to make that vision a reality.

On Tuesday Loopt, a social network catered to mobile-device users, unveiled a plan to allow advertisers to send alerts to Loopt users, based on their location, when they want to offer them an limited-time deal.

A restaurant looking to fill empty seats, for example, could alert a nearby Loopt user of a special price for a meal if they arrived first, says Loopt’s chief executive Sam Altman, in an interview. “We’re very excited about this,” he says.

The initiative, called Reward Alerts, will begin later this month and builds on prior efforts by Loopt, other social-networking services such as Facebook and Foursquare and big Internet companies such as business-review site Yelp and search giant Google to tap into the market for local-business advertising.

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